|Message from the Director|
Dear friends of the School,
My very best wishes for the New Year! We hope you continue to enjoy the School e-Newsletter, now in its fifth edition. As always, many thanks to all those who provided input.
Another academic year is already half over. The School continues to grow its undergraduate enrollment with the largest incoming freshman class ever. In August, I welcomed 17 freshmen with declared majors of Geography and Urban Planning (out of a total of over 500 majors in the School). In the past, the number of declared freshman majors for our School was in the single digits, as low as 4 or 5. This increased interest may be the beginning of a new phenomenon, since typically Geography and Urban Planning gain the majority of majors in the sophomore and junior years. Or it may be a statistical fluke. Time will tell.
Our graduate programs continue to be healthy, with a handful of new PhD and Master’s students in Geography, a solid new class of MUEP students and the largest ever class for the MAS-GIS program, which is now in its eighth year of operation. For the first time, the program is being run as two concurrent sections, occupying both of the School’s GIS teaching labs, one on the fifth floor and one on the first floor of Coor Hall.
We welcomed two new tenure track faculty to the Urban Planning program, Assistant Professors Elizabeth Mack and Deirdre Pfeiffer, who are featured in this newsletter (See story). As mentioned in the previous newsletter, last year we lost several people through retirement and separation. However, even in this age of constrained recruitment at ASU, the School was granted two new positions (out of five in all of social sciences), one in GIS/Spatial Analysis and one in Climate. Recruitment for these positions is currently ongoing.
This Fall, we again had Professor Michael Batty from University College London (UCL) in residence as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. Professor Batty offered a well-attended three-week one-credit course on spatial complexity during the month of October. He was also instrumental in enabling an advanced research workshop, jointly organized by ASU and the Santa Fe Institute (of Santa Fe, New Mexico). The workshop was held on October 21-22 and initiated by Jose Lobo and Michael Mehaffy, both Faculty Associates in the Urban Planning Program. It focused on various theoretical and empirical perspectives pertaining to urban dynamics and featured Professor Batty and Dr. Luis Bettencourt from the Santa Fe Institute. In addition, several faculty from ASU participated, as well as graduate students and post doctoral scholars from the GeoDa Center at ASU, the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at UCL, and the Santa Fe Institute. The workshop papers will be compiled into a special issue of the International Regional Science Review, which is edited in the School.
We had several exciting developments pertaining to the Urban Planning program, featured in more detail in the newsletter (See story). In October, Associate Director Professor Pijawka and I made presentations to the PAB at the annual conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning in Salt Lake City, Utah. Afterwards, we were notified that the MUEP program had been re-accredited for seven years, the maximum term possible under the PAB accreditation program. This Fall also saw the official approval by the Arizona Board of Regents of the new PhD degree in Urban Planning. We will have the first cohort of PhD students start in Fall 2012.
Several concurrent degree programs between the MUEP and other degrees are under development. The first operational one is with the School of Sustainability. This will allow students to obtain both a MUEP and an MA degree in Sustainability in a three-year program. We also revamped the fast track 4+1 BSP-MUEP program to allow more of our outstanding undergraduate majors to obtain both a bachelor’s and a professional master’s degree in five years of study.
Planning Professor Jay Stein has been very active working with the local chapter of the American Planning Association in developing new internship programs for our students and continuing education efforts for the professionals in the region.
The Planning program also gained a new scholarship. Gage Davis Associates has generously established an Urban Planning Travel Scholarship to encourage Urban Planning majors to venture outside their familiar environments and explore the world abroad. Recently, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Gage Davis and learning about how travel abroad enriched his world perspective as a young student and prepared him for an extremely successful professional career in land planning and development.
This is the first newsletter in which I do not have to report on transition in our staff. Even in these times of scarce resources, the staff has been tremendous in running the School as efficiently as possible and making the most of the means we have. I am very proud to recognize and congratulate Tiffinie Smith, Accounts and Operations Specialist Senior in the School who graduated this Fall with a degree of Master of Arts at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (program in Applied Ethics and the Professions -- Pastoral Care Ethics and Spirituality).
On a personal note, I was honored to be appointed as a Regents’ Professor by the Arizona Board of Regents.
Luc Anselin, PhD